How can Santa Claus can navigate his way around to all the different homes on the globe in one night? Does his sleigh have a GPS? Maybe, but it’s good for him to have something to fall back on, like the stars.
In fact, Santa has a “secret star,” and I bet you are wondering what it is. I’d love to tell you, but it’s a secret! You can find out, though, by checking out our holiday program for the younger generation at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium. From now through the third week of December, you can see Santa’s Secret Star Saturdays at 7 p.m.
Santa’s Secret Star was originally created at the Ritter Planetarium in Toledo, Ohio. Ritter Planetarium DirectorAlex Mak wrote the original show, which has been playing in Toledo for over a decade. His show has gone through several iterations, though. Mak involved his students in several of these re-writes, including one young undergraduate named Waylena McCully. Waylena would go on to work at the Sudekum Planetarium in Nashville and then move on to… you guessed it… Parkland College! Given her involvement in the show, we acquired permission to run the program on our dome.
The show was originally created for a 35mm slide-based projection system and, for several years, we ran it that way. Waylena edited our local soundtrack and also served as the show’s narrator. Our show’s original artwork was done by Pamela Friese, who at the time was our 3/4-time artist-photographer. Pam also teaches astronomy on a part-time basis at Parkland. She drew all of the artwork from scratch and then photographed the illustrations in our darkroom. In 2010, when the planetarium converted to a digital projection system, Waylena scanned all of the slide images and converted the show to the new fulldome digital format.
In this fun holiday show for young stargazers, audiences learn about the day and night sky and how the stars seem to make pictures in the sky. Show admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students, seniors, and children under 12.